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Medical News & Perspectives |

High Schools Find Later Start Time Helps Students’ Health and Performance

Lynne Lamberg
JAMA. 2009;301(21):2200-2201. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.786.
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High school will start at 8:15 AM this September in Duxbury, Mass, a Boston suburb, instead of at 7:30 AM, as it did last year. School officials hope the 45-minute delay will allow the 1000 students in grades 9 through 12 to sleep longer and arrive at school more alert and ready to learn.

In the past decade, at least 80 US school districts have delayed their high school start times, and perhaps double that number are weighing such a change, according to informal reports to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). While some parents worry students may stay up later, that has not happened in other school systems that have made such schedule changes. Studies show that when school starts later, students not only get more sleep but also contribute more to class discussions, doze in class less often, arrive tardy less often, miss fewer days, visit nurses and counselors less often, report less depression and irritability, and have fewer driving crashes.

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Because many adolescents are not physiologically ready to sleep until 11:30 PM or later, the early start times of most high schools in the United States can contribute to sleep deprivation that takes a toll on students' health and performance.



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